Have you seen Brian DePalma’s film Blow Out? If so, that clip will make a lot more sense.* Set in Philadelphia, a long tracking shot follows John Lithgow as a stone-cold killer (really, a part he was born to play) as he stalks a victim through the old Reading Terminal Market, when it actually was connected to a train station, giving its name a bit more sense. In the original he pulls his murder weapon–an ice pick–from the open case of a seafood market, which all seems a bit hard to believe. Even in the early 80s were ice picks so easily accessible?
No matter what else has changed, seafood markets are still alive and well at Reading Terminal Market. Like Golden Fish Market, tucked back near the Amish section. The icy interior of its cases display tens of varieties of fish, as well as some prepared items. My companion and I were flying to visit his parents on Christmas Day and my heart was filled with sadness about the prospect of my holiday dinner consisting of a pretzel and a frappucino. At least I’d make us a nice meal the night before, and pulled out my copy of Marc Vetri’s Il Viaggio De Vetri, an amazing cookbook that includes a recipe for brussel sprouts so good you’ll swear you could eat nothing else for a week and be happy. Many of the recipes are quite difficult and involve lots of meat (including a baby goat), but the Porcini-Crusted Halibut with Blueberry Sauce seemed ideal: an unusual pairing of flavors, a small number of ingredients, and a chance to try the Golden Fish Market.
I bought 10 ounces or so of halibut, for a couple bucks over $20. As much as I love to cook, I don’t often buy meat, so maybe I should’ve been pickier about the thickness of the steaks. They were a little thinner than Marc Vetri recommended (in the book, not in my kitchen. Though I wish he would come to my kitchen. Here’s an open invitation, Mr. Vetri: any time, you name it, and I’ll buy the ingredients and the wine.)
Jonathan Best Gourmet Grocer supplied the dried porcinis and champagne vinegar. The recipe was astoundingly quick to prepare. After grinding the porcinis into dust, I made the blueberry sauce, letting it cook longer than called for to get some thickness. Setting that aside, I coated the fish with the porcini dust mixed with oil, and sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper. They cooked beautifully, those filets, coming out moist and tender. However, the porcini crust could have used more oomph. Maybe I measured my porcinis wrong and should’ve ground more of them? Nonetheless, served with a salad of baby spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes with rosemary, and almonds with a champagne-and-honey vinaigrette, it was a delicious meal that almost made me forget the eight hours of traveling that awaited us the next day.
*you can see the source material here starting at about 1:15.